Treasures of Bön: History, Lineage & Practices

Tonpa Shenrab

Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche

Bön counts itself among the oldest spiritual traditions in the world. With origins steeped in an oral, shamanic tradition and yet deeply rooted in teachings of the buddha Tonpa Shenrap, the buddha who preceded Shakyamuni Buddha. Bön offers practices for the challenges we face in our lives, and a complete path to enlightenment.

Ligmincha is pleased to announce a new online course designed for anyone who would like to learn more about, or deepen their existing knowledge about this ancient, profound tradition. This course is ideal for beginners who have recently connected with Bön teachings, and want to know more about where it comes from and the many varied forms of practice in the tradition. It is also well suited for practitioners who have learned several practices and would like to know how all the practices fit together into a beautiful and complete system of philosophies and meditations.

We use a new format for this course, in which Geshe Denma Gyaltsen, our resident lama of Ligmincha Texas, and John Jackson, mentor for many of our courses and frequent international teacher, enter into deep conversations around the essential masters and teachings of our tradition. Each topical conversation is followed by a guided meditation, led by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche or Geshe Denma Gyaltsen, which illustrate and demonstrate the themes discussed. Watch this short video to get a taste of the course.

The course is divided into five parts:

  • History and Lineage
  • The Causal Vehicle
  • The Path of Sutra
  • The Path of Tantra
  • The Path of Dzogchen

Each week of the course will begin a new section, with new teachings, meditations and suggested readings:

In History and Lineage we begin by exploring the life of Tonpa Shenrab Miwoche, the founder of the Yungdrung Bön lineage, and briefly examine the history of Olmo Lungring, Zhang Zhung and Tibet. We then discuss the pivotal figures of Tapihritsa, King Ligmincha, Drenpa Namkha, Lishu Tagring, Joza Bönmo, Nyame Sherab Gyaltsen and modern day masters His Holiness Lungtog Tenpai Nyima and His Eminence Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche. In two 40-minute videos, we share the lives and importance of each of these spiritual masters through dialog and engaging stories. Our guided meditation by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche is on the practice of Guru Yoga, the essential method for connecting with the wisdom of the lineage.

In The Causal Vehicle, we examine the different types of practices that fall within the Causal Vehicle including Tibetan medicine, astrology, divination, and offerings to nature spirits. As an example of this view, we introduce the Sang Chöd, a practice commonly performed at our centers and monasteries, and explain the method in some detail. Geshe Denma and John Jackson then guide a simple version of the Sang Chöd and Yeshe Walmo practices that could be done in any location, including in an apartment in any urban area.

In The Path of Sutra, Geshe-la and John explore the Path of Virtue that is the moral and ethical guide for all practitioners, and the basis for monastic life. We look at the Ten Paramitas, or Ten Perfections, that we cultivate to live a joy-filled, meaningful life. We also discuss the sutric analytical approach to meditation, in which we deeply reflect upon a theme or question until we discover insight that leads to a fundamentally different perspective on life. As an example of this approach, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche leads a guided meditation upon impermanence.

In The Path of Tantra we explore tantra as the path of transformation, one in which everything is accepted as part of our spiritual path. We discuss and explore the hallmarks of tantric practice: mantra, visualization, deity yoga, and working with the channels, chakras and winds. We look at the many practices drawn from the Mother Tantra that are commonly shared by our teachers: tsa lung, dream yoga, sleep yoga, the bardo teaching, and phowa. As an example of a tantric meditation, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche will lead a practice using the Nine Breathings of Purification and Purification through Mantra.

In The Path of Dzogchen Geshe-la and John discuss The Great Perfection, the basis for many of the meditations shared by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche and other lineage masters. In many ways this is the most direct form of meditation, for we simply recognize our true nature, our inner refuge, the nature of our own mind. Yet this path is so simple, direct and subtle, it can be easily misunderstood. As an example of dzogchen meditation, Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche leads a guided practice on the five lines of Dawa Gyaltsen.

The course includes teaching videos on each of the topics, guided practices, and written practice guides. You will be able to download MP3 audio recordings of each of the guided practices. Each topic also includes suggested readings from several different sources. Everyone is also encouraged to engage in the discussion forum to share insights, gain support from peers, and resolve any questions with the course mentor, John Jackson. We think you will find the course stimulating, educational, and a great support to understanding the breadth and wisdom on the Bön tradition.

Course Dates: January 5 – February 9, 2019
Cost: $195

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